The Battle Abbey Roll. Vol. I.
by
The Duchess of Cleveland.

Prepared by Michael A. Linton
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Belemis : Beaumis, Beaumeys, or Beaumetz, from Beaumetz, near Alencon.

Three brothers of this name, William, Richard, and Walter, came to England at the Conquest. Richard, a clerk in holy orders, "was, in the first instance, largely and confidentially employed by Roger Montgomeri, Earl of Shrewsbury; and we find him prominent among the great men who attested his charters, and a witness also of all the charters, genuine and doubtful, which are assigned to Earl Hugh, in the Register of Shrewsbury Abbey."—Egton's Shropshire. His name is affixed to its first foundation charter, in 1067. In a precept of Henry I. it is also mentioned among "the King's Barons of Sussex;" and his great-nephew Philip de Belmeis, held three knight's fees then of the honour of Arundel (Liber Niger): but his home appears to have been generally in Shropshire. When the next Earl, Robert de Belesme, rose in rebellion against Henry I., De Belmeis remained loyal, and received as his reward two of the manors thus forfeited, Tong and Donington. The latter, it is presumed, was held under him by his brother William; at all events, it was so held by the posterity of the latter. In 1102, Richard de Belmeis was one of the King's commissioners for treating with the Welsh princes, and showed such rare ability that he was appointed Viceroy of Shropshire and Warden of the Marches. He was elected to the vacant see of London in 1108; and the King, who was then waiting on the coast of Sussex for a fair wind to embark for Normandy, was so urgent to send him back to the Western Marches before he himself left England, that he sent to beseech Archbishop Anselm "for the love he bore him, to consecrate Richard, the Bishop elect" as speedily as might be. De Belemis was accordingly, to please the King, consecrated in the Archbishop's private chapel at Pageham; and returned forthwith to watch over the distracted Welsh frontier. Within his province, he held Royal jurisdiction; and he governed with great success for twenty-five years, though, according to the Welsh chroniclers, his policy was pervaded with the grossest treachery. He devoted all his episcopal revenue to the building of St. Paul's Cathedral, yet it "seemed as though he accomplished nothing in proportion to such a prodigal outlay," and naturally "grew weary and despairing" as years went on. He died in 1127. The two sons of his brother Walter shared his property, and together founded Lilleshall Abbey about 1145. Richard, the elder nephew, who was a priest, inherited his churches and church-lands in Shropshire, and eventually became Bishop of London in his turn, while Philip, the younger, was his temporal heir. The line ended with Philip's sons, and their only sister Adelicia married Alan la Zouch, who thus become Lord of Tong.

The branch enfeoffed at Donington proved of far longer continuance, Hugh de Belmeis, the last mentioned there, about 1329 sold the manor (as is presumed) to Henry de Belmeis of Limbergh Magna in Lincolnshire. It is expressly stated that he was not Hugh's heir; nor, indeed, any relation of his; though Eyton suggests it as probable that he was descended from a third son of Walter, the Viceroy's brother. At all events, these De Belmeis held under the Lords of Donington, and resided in the neighbourhood. "It was, I imagine, to the estate of this branch of the Belmeis family that the messuage still known as Beamish Hall belonged. It is in Albrighton parish. The old manor house was taken down some years since. The name Beamish is yet to be found among the poorer classes of Tong and its neighbourhood." Henry's son John, and his daughter-in-law, Tecia Fitz Peter, are the last spoken of in the county history.

The manor of Beams or Beaumys, near Reading, in Wiltshire, must have been named from this family; but I can find no mention of any earlier owners than the De la Beches, who had a castle here in the fourteenth century. "On a small elevation in the adjoining parish of Swallowfield, is an ancient moat, which, it is probable, was the site of Beaumys Castle."—Lysons. Sawtrey Beaumes, in Huntingdonshire, claims to have been the birthplace of the first Bishop of London, Richard de Belmeis. The name continued there till the first years of Richard II.'s reign.

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